the ship that could've sailed away

Saturday ended up being some kind of an art and architecture day for J and I.

It started with a visit to this designer's workshop at Katong, then to Dramabox's A Stranger at Home at the National Library -
the new space-agey library that's pretty much part of the efficient architecture that has prevailed - all photos in this post are by J/TOHA

a detour to this Gotham-like Parkview Square building -
J's fave building - the Art Deco, rather over-the-top structure that should audition to be Bruce Wayne's office - it has some 15 or so giant gold statues of folks like Dante, Chopin, Sun Yat Sen...and a giant goose

before winding down with friends at the 5th session of ROJAK byfarm held at the Golden Mile Complex.

publicity poster of the aptly-themed Rojak5, given its venue

I learnt so much from the various people and works I saw on Saturday I cannot even start to describe here the questions and answers that went through my mind the taxi ride home at 3am. But my favourite would be the story of the Goldenmile Complex which L told us right after ROJAK ended and during his brief guided tour to us.

Designed in 1972 by the original Design Partnership (William Lim, Koh Hsiao Chuan etc), L told us that the building was a realisation of these early Singaporean architects' dreams of the mega-city, part inspired by the Japanese metabolists and derivative of Le Corbusier's work and philosophy. From the outside along Beach Road, the building pretty much resembles a ship! But from its back, its tiered terraces/balconies like some kind of babylon. But I've increasingly come to appreciate architecture not for its sculptural exterior, but from its inside. Inside is where man interacts with the physical space, interacts with others - a process which the physical space subtly shapes - and interacts with ideas - the space the physical eyes purveys stretching or melding with the space the inner eye perceives. And Goldenmile Complex does have some really amazing spaces within.

floatingcoridor floatingcoridor2

L told us that when the Design Partnership first ventured this design (right after or before? the People's Park building at Chinatown), they were so committed to their ideas and vision, they and other architectural practices all set up their offices in the Goldenmile Complex. (I wonder if the folks who designed the Pearl Bank apartments, which was probably built at about the same time, also had their office there).

L telling us stories at the internal staricase landing between level 6 and 7

I liked best how each floor of the building is different - departing from the identical stacks of our public housing and corporate monoliths. The variations and the different paths one could chart just walking from one floor to the other demonstrates a humanist...or perhaps even humane architecture. J spotted the humour in the details of the building, such as the airvents on certain levels, these concrete openings playfully shaped like ventilation fans!


The creative individual alone can know contentment and achievement, and the individual consumer can benefit from his/her work. But when a community of such individuals is formed, perhaps the imagination of a generation can be stirred.


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